As he stepped through the door, the air was filled with the sound of bells. Joy, he thought. Joy! And stood on the top step of the short flight down to the street and drew himself up straight and raised his head. As if a great weight had fallen from his shoulders – a weight that had bowed him down for weeks, months. It was gone.
He breathed in the air, sweet with the flowering trees that lined the street. Across the way and a little down to the left, a wedding party crowded outside St Nicholas’. The bells pealed from the steeple as pigeons flew in a flock about the slatted tower. But he felt the bells rang for him, the air was scented for him, as he slowly stepped down from the door to the pavement.
The knife slipped from his hand to drop, point down, on the step by his foot then somersault, blade over handle, ahead of him down the steps. It made no sound, drowned by bell clang, and fell slowly, he thought as he watched it tumble, little drops of glutinous red flicking from it to speck the stones.
It reached the street before he did, just as a woman passed by. A woman with a little girl beside her, holding hands. Hurrying, late for the wedding. Dressed in their best clothes, the girl with black lacquered shoes, white socks, a tartan skirt and a green jacket. The woman did not see the knife, but the girl did and she turned her head to look up at him as he came down the steps. Fixing him with her large brown eyes. Holding his eyes in a serious, judgemental gaze.
No joy there.
He stood by the knife watching the girl and her mother as they walked towards the church, the girl hanging back, her eyes still on him. The sweet scent had vanished from the air, the bells were a cacophony. He felt the weight pressing down on him again. His eyes were wet. No, he thought. Not–
But he stooped and picked up the knife.